Here Comes The Rain Again: Tips For Shooting in Crappy Weather

Angry Bird: Drenched Cattle Egret in St. Augustine, Florida

I went down to Florida and it rained. No this wasn’t your refreshing spring shower variety either, it rained 12 inches in 72 hours – most of it sideways.

As I mentioned in a previous post here, bad weather is often welcomed by landscape and nature photographers for all the reasons you’ve heard over and over again. Bad weather can inject drama and mood to your images and then there’s the soft, diffused light that comes with cloudy skies, etc. And all of this would indeed be true. But sometimes bad weather is just a royal pain in the ass. I’m sorry, but there’s just no better way to put it. Last weekend’s rain would be one of those times.

During our bird photography workshop in St. Augustine, we managed to dodge the heaviest rain and got some photography in during the lighter showers and brief lulls between the squalls. Yes, productive photography can be done during light or moderate rain and it won’t kill you or your camera. Here are a few tips on how to manage rainy weather photography:

1) Keep yourself as dry and comfortable as possible. It’s difficult to think creatively when you are feeling miserable. A waterproof shell and pants helps keep you dry and happy, otherwise you’ll look and feel like our friend, the angry bird.

2) Use a rain cover over your camera to keep it as dry as possible too. In light rain, I really don’t worry too much about my camera getting wet. Most modern DSLRs handle light rain without any problems short of submerging it (the same cannot be said of saltwater, however). Still, if you need some piece of mind consider one of the following products: Think Tank’s Hydrophobia, Lens Coat’s Rain Coat, and the Vortex Storm Jacket. A shower cap, on the other hand – complementary at most hotels, works just as well.

I just don’t like working when I don’t have an unobstructed, intuitive feel for the camera and all its controls. The cover is always in the way and I can’t concentrate on what I’m trying to do. Therefore, in the rain I prefer to shoot naked.

3) Use your lens hood. I’ll admit that this lens accessory is one I rarely use, but it does keep drops off the front element of the lens – a major annoyance when shooting in the rain.

4) When not worrying about getting yourself and your camera wet, look for some unique photo opportunities in the crappy weather. Reflections off wet surfaces can offer creative options that fair weather doesn’t provide. Backlit raindrops are yet another. The image above is a good example of that.

5) Have dry cover nearby. Don’t leave yourself exposed to a torrent of a downpour. If you are going to photograph in the rain, plan on having shelter that is relatively close in case the bottom falls out of the rain clouds. This makes infinitely more sense if there is a chance of a thunder storm in the forecast.

6) Dry your gear as soon as you return to your home or hotel room. Storing it while wet just invites mold growth in the camera and lenses.

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| 7 Comments
Posted in General, Images, Photo Instruction, Uncategorized | Tagged , , ,

7 Comments

  1. Posted May 10, 2013 at 9:44 am by Ricky | Permalink

    Nicely done Richard.

  2. Posted May 10, 2013 at 3:16 pm by marcus | Permalink

    I’ve found that a big umbrella is my favorite solution to shooting in the rain. As long as you’re shooting on a tripod, adjusting the composition is a little bit tricky, but I found it to be far less cumbersome than dealing with a cover, and it doesn’t fog up making it impossible to see what you’re doing anyway.

  3. Posted May 11, 2013 at 3:39 am by James Greenall | Permalink

    Superb advice Richard, thank you. I am now looking forward to our next rain to try out the backlight tip.

  4. Posted May 11, 2013 at 8:12 am by Jeanie | Permalink

    Love that bird! He looks like I have felt a few times getting caught in rain, It’s a neat photo, love the raindrops too, To be honest I never have attempted shooting in rain for fear of messing up my camera..so thanks for the tips! Enjoyed your blog.
    All your photos are so good no matter what weather you are up against. You are apprecited, have a good wk.end

  5. Posted May 11, 2013 at 10:24 am by James Volosin | Permalink

    I have to second marcus’ earlier statement. I have always told my students before a workshop (especially my one coming up next week) to get an umbrella. I always suggest the Velbon UC-6. It is sold on ebay. Indispensable. It allows you to move the umbrella in any direction to hold off the rain, be it a light one or heavier downpours. Not very good for some fast winds though, that’s when it is just a sail. It allows you to focus and do just about everything else you would otherwise do in dry conditions by a clamp that attaches to your tripod. You also don’t have to worry about the fogging of your screen like some covers can do. Also one of the best features is that it also can keep me relatively dry too!

  6. Posted May 13, 2013 at 6:10 am by Jason Williams | Permalink

    Hi Richard

    Some really good ideas here, especially for the likes of me living in the UK (Oh boy we love the rain! NOT! But not much option here!)

    Jas

  7. Posted June 11, 2013 at 11:23 pm by Sheen Watkins | Permalink

    Richard – your low light photography (and all!) is spectacular! Can you share your settings for this particular image – I struggle with the combination of low light, movement, ISO and getting clear images.

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